Is 'Blake's 7' Fandom Dying? Diehard fans find there's not much left
|Title:||Is 'Blake's 7' Fandom Dying? Diehard fans find there's not much left|
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I've been in Blake's 7 fandom since 1993, and in these 4 1/2 years, I've seen a drastic change. Blake's 7 newsletters and fanzines have been disappearing like rotary dial telephones. (I still own two.) That's the main impact on me. What happens on the Net, I'm only aware of when some nice person sends me a "Net care package". It may be that Blake's 7 is booming on the Net, but I can't evaluate that aspect. I only know that Net types seem to be exclusive - and many of them only "do Net" and thus that's part of the problem with newsletters and fanzines.
Print fandom publications are becoming obsolete.
Of course, "Net types" are quick to point out that's not the only reason. And that's more than true.
To someone non-Net coming into Blake's 7 today, the prospects are dismal. And actually, even for those on the Net, I'm guessing it's not easy being a Blake's 7 fan - especially if you're not British. I easily bought all 26 NTSC Blake's 7 episode tapes - I don't know how much longer they'll be available. I understand the PAL tapes have disappeared. But, if you're in Britain, the good news is that UK Gold in 1994 started the first full repeat of Blake's 7 and is now in its third one - somewhere toward second season.
After the last Orac's Oddities (September/October 1997), there is no US Blake's 7 newsletter left. There are two in England, Horizon coming out about twice yearly and Avon quarterly. Avon is devoted to Paul Darrow, but doesn't ignore the rest of Blake's 7. There are at least three Blake's 7 APAs in the US, two of which advertise for members. They appear quarterly - Rallying Call and On the Wing emphasize Blake and Tarrant respectively and accept gen, adult, and slash tribs from members. The unadvertised APA, The Way Back, is gen. (APAs do have limited membership.)
Besides newsletters and APAs, there are letterzines. I urge Blake's 7 people to participate in Alta-Zine - which doesn't appear on a regular schedule but probably has three issues a year. The advantage to Horizon's letterzine (over Horizon's newsletter) is that it will actually publish your letter. (Horizon newsletter points out they don't publish all letters, and it edits those they do print.) You do have to subscribe to the letterzine separately, and it's not cheap for Americans. The advantage (I think) to Alta-Zine is that its "creator" is definitely on the weird side, and the letterzine has no restrictions. The editor may irk you, but he won't bore you. I find Horizon letterzine a bit too serious.
Zines - as in "I want to buy them! Where are they?" Many fans aren't into fanzines. I am. And some fans are only into a certain type of fanzine. I'm very guilty of that myself. (Like Blake - gen, adult, slash - and Blakeless zines bore me. Well, they would bore me, if I could summon up the interest to even read them.) That makes it very hard for fanzine producers - several of them have told me that the fanzine scene is "the pits". Editors used to easily sell 700 fanzines, counting reprints. Two of the most prominent around told me their last zine's sales were about 100 and 150 - I won't name the ones that have dropped by the wayside, or may be receiving last rites right now. I only know that in 1996 there weren't even ten new Blake's 7 fanzines produced. And so far this year, I think there have only been four done. Several are projected to surface later this year, but I wouldn't send my money ahead of time.
So what's available now that's recently been done? There have been Tents of Goth (gen, general Blake's 7), Deadlier than the Male ((Blake's 7 women oriented, some adult, basically Blakeless), Horizon 20 (gen, general Blake's "but basically Blakeless), and Malodaar (gen, general Blake's 7, nice Blake). However, Malodaar isn't really new. It just received publication from Judith Proctor, after its original publisher kept it hidden for two years. What's coming up later in 1997? (Well, maybe coming up.) Possible Fire and Ice 4 (slash, normally B/A), The Seven Live On 11 (gen, general Blake's 7 but sometimes lean on Blake), and What on Earth Happened to You? (gen and totally Blake).
Projected for some near future time (let's hope 1998) are The Seven Live On 12, Forbidden Star 2 (slash, B/A and other). Tents of Goth 2, Liberator Fantasies (slash), Southern Seven 11 (with Hellhound 9 (gen Blakes 7), and Horizon 21 (gen, Blake's "women-oriented). I wonder about the wisdom of zines being so specifically limited, such as the female character type zine. Let's face it - few people watch Blake's 7 because of Dayna and Jenna. The main appeal is Avon, Blake and Vila. I would assume zines with the biggest appeal are ones which feature these three. I don't buy zines without Blake. Most fans won't buy a zine without Avon.
So, you're not into fanzines. What's left? Well, not much. As for magazine coverage and current news, a two- to three-page spread in a major British sci-fi magazine twice a year is about the best there is now. As for cons, Visions in Chicago at Thanksgiving normally has one major Blake's 7 guest; this year Sally Knyvette is scheduled. The word I heard is that Blake's 7 guests were felt to not draw in that many people. That may be. After all, both Thomas and Darrow were at Visions in 1995 and Tarriel Cell didn't even think it important enough to report on it - or no one decided to send in their report to Tarriel Cell for it to publish. (The latter assumption is correct - Ed.) (I'm obviously still miffed about this.)
There, of course, if Deliverance '98 in March in England. None of my local friends is going. ($800-$1000 airfare is steep.) I gave a supporting membership and have hard no updates so far from the con people. It's said 200 are signed up so far. That seems like a small amount to me, given the significance of the event - which frankly hasn't been well advertised at all.
The good news is that there will be a new radio play in January in England. Space Rat Press in the US and Sheelagh Wells in England both are generating new merchandise. There are photos, bookmarks, audio tapes, and art prints - besides the non-fiction book Blake's 7: The Inside Story which, last I heard, was still selling well in England (the top ten). "Blake" survived Gauda Prime and actually showed up in Blackpool, England, this July. No kidding,' And if you didn't hear about this event, wonder why?
We may not be a big fandom these days, but that doesn't diminish the love we have for the show. As for the fandom dying, yes, fanzines are in trouble. People on the Net have to realize not all fans are on the Net. Horizon has got to become more responsive to fans. Some Britishers must realize that there comes a time when American fans get fed up with long delays and overpriced items (and I'm not talking about the postage problem which is an unfortunate reality for fans on both sides of the pond). It isn't easy being an American Blake's 7 fan.
I've done what I could this year to help Blake's 7. I can't afford Deliverance. I'll be there in spirit. And after Deliverance, who knows? I may just decide to become a lot like other Blake's 7 fans. I'll enjoy the tapes in the privacy of my own home, keep rereading my favorite fanzines, and buy what little new appears whenever it does appear - and not worry about it.
When major organizations in Blake's 7 don't promote Blake's 7 very well, there's little the solitary fan can do. Blake's 7 desperately needs a letterzine available on a fairly regular basis, something like the old Cephlon or even the old Tarriel Cell. But then there was a reason Tarriel Cell became multimedia. There was a reason Cephlon wasn't continued. There's a reason no big name Blake's 7 guest is at Visions 97. There's a reason the old Tarriel Cell didn't carry a con report of Darrow's and Thomas' very first American con appearance together at Visions in 1995 - (It took them 17 years for them to hit the US together.) And that reason is one I'd prefer not to think about - Blake's 7 flame may be flickering out.1998 is the 20th anniversary of Blake's 7. Let's all thank the cast and everyone concerned for a great 20 years. Let's support Blake's 7 in every way we can. There are new merchandise and zines being produced. Let's buy them. Support Blake's 7 by buying items from Space Rat Press and Sheelagh Wells. If you haven't bought Blake's 7: The Inside Story and Wells' Together Again audio tape series, do so immediately. These are absolutely necessary accessories for every well-equipped Blake's 7 fan. You may not want a $65 Scorpio bracelet (unassembled) nor have earrings (especially if you're male) that spell out B-L-A-K-E in pewter blocks, but Blake's 7: The Inside Story and the Together Again collection should be staned somewhere on your bookshelves. Support Blake's 7! Your good deed will go unpunished.